Today I got some great news. After 4 years of fighting Lyme Disease, I found out that I'm at the end of my treatment and will now simply be on maintenance. All I have to do now is heal and figure out how to move forward after years of this illness, if only it were that easy.
I'd like to say I'm thrilled and have been smiling all day, but the truth is I'm at a loss for words. Mostly I just don't know what to do from here. For so long now all I've known is Lyme Disease. Most hopes have been met with the phrase, "but I'm sick." It took 3 years of feeling incredibly sick before even getting a diagnosis and then another year and a half of intense treatment with all of the side effects that come with it. That means Lyme and I have had a long and complicated relationship. It's a relationship to which I've grown accustomed. I've grown used to cautiously living my life around being sick. You get used to the feeling. The truth is you get used to the fear.
So, when my doctor smiled at me and told me I was done with the brutal meds, to exercise self-care, not overdo it and that she'd see me in 6 months, I felt untethered. 6 months? Wait... what? What can I do? What can't I do? What happens if I feel tired? Does it mean the Lyme is back? I had so many questions. She kindly looked at me and said unless I had a surge of symptoms, I was ok. I just had to take it easy as I acclimate to living a full life again.
I walked out of my doctor's office and instead of celebrating and calling everyone I knew, I went to a coffee shop and just sat there. I think I was trying to process the news, but I just sat there feeling lost. I scribbled in my sketchbook as if that was going to magically bring me some answers.
I learned today that life really is a journey and not about arriving at a destination. If you had asked me 2 years ago (when I was exhausted, in pain, and sadly contemplating how to take a break from my life without using the word suicide) what it would be like to complete treatment, I would have told you that I only dreamed of arriving at that destination. I wanted so desperately to stop feeling so awful. And yet, here I am. Today was that day, the day of good news, and I'm still scared of the future. But, I've made it this far with the help of a great team of doctors, supportive friends, patient and nurturing therapists, family, and most of all my husband. He held me through some really scary times. He sat at the kitchen table every single Sunday for the last year and a half filling my med cases because I was too mentally fragile to remember the complicated protocols. He came with me to every single doctor appointment. He drove the entire way when we moved from Oregon to Virginia because I just didn't have the stamina to sit behind the wheel. Through all of this, he never complained or wavered in his support, even when he was just as terrified as I was.
So, like most new adventures in life, I'll take it one step at a time. I guess it's all just part of the journey.
"Onward and upward" as the saying goes.